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# Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis

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Joined: 12 Feb 2013
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Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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19 Feb 2014, 12:05
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25% (medium)

Question Stats:

66% (00:55) correct 34% (01:07) wrong based on 275 sessions

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Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy the Mohenjo-Daro excavation in Pakistan, the site of an ancient civilization that flourished at the same time as the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.

(A) that flourished at the same time as the civilizations
(B) that had flourished at the same time as had the civilizations
(C) that flourished at the same time those had
(D) flourishing at the same time as those did
(E) flourishing at the same time as those were

Hi

I am confused at the application of ellipsis over here.
Though I am not able to justify with any grammatical rule, I constantly feel the correct answer should have been:-
that flourished at the same time as DID the civilizations

I perceive this sentence as if the "time" is being compared to "civilization"
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4667
Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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19 Feb 2014, 15:15
rajgurinder wrote:
Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy the Mohenjo-Daro excavation in Pakistan, the site of an ancient civilization that flourished at the same time as the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.

(A) that flourished at the same time as the civilizations
(B) that had flourished at the same time as had the civilizations
(C) that flourished at the same time those had
(D) flourishing at the same time as those did
(E) flourishing at the same time as those were

Hi

I am confused at the application of ellipsis over here.
Though I am not able to justify with any grammatical rule, I constantly feel the correct answer should have been:-
that flourished at the same time as DID the civilizations

I perceive this sentence as if the "time" is being compared to "civilization"

Dear rajgurinder,
I'm happy to respond.

This, of course, is SC #89 in the OG13. You may find this blog helpful:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/dropping-c ... -the-gmat/
One of the hardest things about parallelism is what one can legitimately omit in the second branch, and figuring this out from sentence in which the omission has already happened.

Choice (A) gives perfectly correct parallelism. Part of what's confusing about this sentence is that the words "the site" is an appositive phrase, and the whole rest of the sentence modifies this phrase. For clarity, let's talk about the comparison directly, in its own sentence. The long way to say it would be:
The ancient Mohenjo-Daro civilization flourished at the same time that the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates flourished.
That version is perfectly grammatically correct, but because it's long and wordy, it never would be correct on the GMAT. A shorter and perfectly correct way to say this is:
The ancient Mohenjo-Daro civilization flourished at the same time as the the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates flourished
That is, in essence, the same structure as the OA above. Including the word "did" as you suggest would also be correct, only a little longer --- that's perfectly acceptable, but not necessary to make the sentence correct.

Think about it this way. Think about where the word "same" appears. It appears inside a prepositional phrase, "at the same time" ---- this prepositional phrase is an adverbial phrase, that is, a verb-modifier. See:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/gmat-gramm ... d-clauses/
This suggests that the comparison is not between "time" and something else, but rather, that the comparison is between two verbs, both modified in the same way by the modifying phrase. For example:
A did X at the same time that B did Y.
If the two do the same action, it's redundant to say:
A did X at the same time that B did X
and much better to say
A did X at the same time as B.
The predicate, "did X", is the same, so it is dropped, and the comparison, the "same time", refers to the time of those two identical predicates.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Joined: 22 Oct 2013
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GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V42
Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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20 Feb 2014, 10:33
2
rajgurinder wrote:
I am confused at the application of ellipsis over here.
Though I am not able to justify with any grammatical rule, I constantly feel the correct answer should have been:-
that flourished at the same time as DID the civilizations

I perceive this sentence as if the "time" is being compared to "civilization"

Original sentence says:

ancient civilization flourished at the same time as the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.

So, we have "civilization" before and after the comparison operator. Hence, that would be the thing that is being compared.

If the sentence was:

ancient civilization flourished at the same time as when human beings discovered fire.

Then the comparison would have been between "same time" and "when human beings discovered fire" (both indicators of "time", the way both are "civilizations" in option A).

With "did" or "flourished" as well, option A would be correct, but since the sentence is completely clear even without it, "did"/"flourished" is redundant.

Another example:

Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults.

Now this is a problematic sentence, because it could mean either of the following:
i) Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than to adults. In other words:
Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than children exhibit tendency to be susceptible to adults

or

ii) Children exhibit more tendency to be more susceptible to bronchitis than adults (exhibit tendency to susceptible to bronchitis).

So, in this case, since there is an ambiguity, we need to introduce "do"/"exhibit" after the comparison operator:
Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults do.
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4667
Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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20 Feb 2014, 11:08
1
ayushman wrote:
rajgurinder wrote:
I am confused at the application of ellipsis over here.
Though I am not able to justify with any grammatical rule, I constantly feel the correct answer should have been:-
that flourished at the same time as DID the civilizations

I perceive this sentence as if the "time" is being compared to "civilization"

Original sentence says:

ancient civilization flourished at the same time as the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.

So, we have "civilization" before and after the comparison operator. Hence, that would be the thing that is being compared.

If the sentence was:

ancient civilization flourished at the same time as when human beings discovered fire.

Then the comparison would have been between "same time" and "when human beings discovered fire" (both indicators of "time", the way both are "civilizations" in option A).

With "did" or "flourished" as well, option A would be correct, but since the sentence is completely clear even without it, "did"/"flourished" is redundant.

Another example:

Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults.

Now this is a problematic sentence, because it could mean either of the following:
i) Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than to adults. In other words:
Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than children exhibit tendency to be susceptible to adults

or

ii) Children exhibit more tendency to be more susceptible to bronchitis than adults (exhibit tendency to susceptible to bronchitis).

So, in this case, since there is an ambiguity, we need to introduce "do"/"exhibit" after the comparison operator:
Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults do.

Dear ayushman,
With all due respect, your example in the bronchitis sentence is not very good, only because the idea of a "tendency to be susceptible to adults" is nonsensical and meaningless. That phrase is unidiomatic and has no sensible meaning at all. Because of this, version (ii) is the only logical reading of the sentence, and thus there is no ambiguity in the original sentence.

I think you were searching more for a sentence such as this:
I like John more than Harry.
which could mean
(1) I like John more than I like Harry.
or
(2) I like John more than Harry likes John.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Joined: 22 Oct 2013
Posts: 86
GMAT 1: 750 Q50 V42
Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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20 Feb 2014, 20:19
mikemcgarry wrote:
I think you were searching more for a sentence such as this:
I like John more than Harry.
which could mean
(1) I like John more than I like Harry.
or
(2) I like John more than Harry likes John.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Oh that would be too simple:).

Question number 98, OG-13, option A:

Ranked as one of the most important of Europe's young playwrights, Franz Xaver Kroetz has written 40 plays; his works—translated into more than 30 languages—are produced more often than any contemporary German dramatist.

OE: A dramatist cannot be produced and cannot be compared to works.

Again, "dramatist can be produced" is a non-sensical interpretation, but OG rules out this option because of this interpretation.

Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4667
Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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21 Feb 2014, 11:31
1
ayushman wrote:
mikemcgarry wrote:
I think you were searching more for a sentence such as this:
I like John more than Harry.
which could mean
(1) I like John more than I like Harry.
or
(2) I like John more than Harry likes John.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Oh that would be too simple:).

Question number 98, OG-13, option A:

Ranked as one of the most important of Europe's young playwrights, Franz Xaver Kroetz has written 40 plays; his works—translated into more than 30 languages—are produced more often than any contemporary German dramatist.

OE: A dramatist cannot be produced and cannot be compared to works.

Again, "dramatist can be produced" is a non-sensical interpretation, but OG rules out this option because of this interpretation.

Dear ayushman,
I'm happy to respond.

As always, this question from the OG is fantastic. The folks at GMAC are extraordinary at crafting these gems.

Part of what is intriguing about this sentence is the break created by the semicolon. Mr. Kroetz is the subject of the first half, and naively we might expect him to be the subject throughout, because he is ultimately the "doer" of everything discussed in this sentence. The first clause subtly creates the expectation that we will be comparing people. BUT, the comparison is ultimate not between people, but between plays, and plays are the subject of the second independent clause, the one that follows the semicolon. You are perfectly correct --- we absolutely cannot compare people to plays, and people most definitely are not "produced."
That's precisely why option (A) is trainwreck-wrong:
... his works .... are produced more often than any contemporary German dramatist.
To correct this ---
(a) we need to compare plays to plays --- we could say "plays of" or simply "those of"
(b) the word "any" without the word "other" creates a logical problem.
To see this logical problem, consider a simpler version, a comparison of people.
Franz Xaver Kroetz has published more than any contemporary German dramatist.
In that sentence, the grammar is correct, the parallelism is correct, but there's a grave logical problem. Mr. Kroetz is a contemporary German dramatist. If he has published more than any contemporary German dramatist, then "any contemporary German dramatist" includes himself, and we are saying that he publishes more than himself!! We avoid this mistake by including the word "other."
The OA, (D), fixes both of these problems:
(D) Ranked as one of the most important of Europe's young playwrights, Franz Xaver Kroetz has written 40 plays; his works—translated into more than 30 languages—are produced more often than those of any other contemporary German dramatist.
It would also be correct add the verb:
Ranked as one of the most important of Europe's young playwrights, Franz Xaver Kroetz has written 40 plays; his works—translated into more than 30 languages—are produced more often than are those of any other contemporary German dramatist.
Including that verb is perfectly fine, but absolutely unnecessary, because the parallelism is 100% clear without it.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Joined: 22 Oct 2013
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Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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22 Feb 2014, 07:19
Hello Mike, all that you mention makes sense.

But perhaps the intent of my citing this OG question was not very clear in my post.

In my original posted, I had posted a sentence:

Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults.

What you had suggested in your post was that this sentence "cannot" be interpreted as: Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than (to) adults, since this would be meaningless.

I then posted Mr. Kroetz example from OG to illustrate that OG interprets option A as "dramatist can be produced", despite the fact that this interpretation is meaningless. On this basis, OG regards A as incorrect.

Hope I was able to explain my intent of citing the example of Mr. Kroetz.

By the way, coming back to my example: Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults, it struck me tht there actually are more than one ways to fix it:

i) Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults do...or.
ii) Children exhibit more tendency than adults to be susceptible to bronchitis.
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4667
Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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22 Feb 2014, 12:40
1
ayushman wrote:
Hello Mike, all that you mention makes sense.

But perhaps the intent of my citing this OG question was not very clear in my post.

In my original posted, I had posted a sentence:

Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults.

What you had suggested in your post was that this sentence "cannot" be interpreted as: Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than (to) adults, since this would be meaningless.

I then posted Mr. Kroetz example from OG to illustrate that OG interprets option A as "dramatist can be produced", despite the fact that this interpretation is meaningless. On this basis, OG regards A as incorrect.

Hope I was able to explain my intent of citing the example of Mr. Kroetz.

By the way, coming back to my example: Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults, it struck me tht there actually are more than one ways to fix it:

i) Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults do...or.
ii) Children exhibit more tendency than adults to be susceptible to bronchitis.

Dear ayushman,
It seems to me you are trying to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed. The sentence:
Children exhibit more tendency to be susceptible to bronchitis than adults.
exhibits no logical problems with respect to the comparison. The comparison is already 100% clear, and nothing needs to be fixed. That sentence is awkward and unidiomatic. The phrasing "exhibit more tendency" is a very indirect and awkward way of phrasing this. It would be far more direct to say:
Children tend to be more susceptible to bronchitis than adults.
or simply
Children are more susceptible to bronchitis than adults.
That sentence also has a 100% clear comparison. There is absolutely no problem. We could add a verb at the end "than adults do" ---- that's not necessary, but some people would choose to add it for clarity. The sentence is 100% correct either with or without that verb at the end. Does this make sense?

Mike
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Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

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Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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24 Feb 2014, 02:16
1
rajgurinder wrote:
Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy the Mohenjo-Daro excavation in Pakistan, the site of an ancient civilization that flourished at the same time as the civilizations in the Nile delta and the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates.

(A) that flourished at the same time as the civilizations
(B) that had flourished at the same time as had the civilizations
(C) that flourished at the same time those had
(D) flourishing at the same time as those did
(E) flourishing at the same time as those were

Hi

I am confused at the application of ellipsis over here.
Though I am not able to justify with any grammatical rule, I constantly feel the correct answer should have been:-
that flourished at the same time as DID the civilizations

I perceive this sentence as if the "time" is being compared to "civilization"

Hi there,

Ellipsis only creates problems when it leads to ambiguity in the intended meaning of the sentence. "Civilization" and "time" are not parallel entities in this context, since this comparison isn't logical. So, it's perfectly fine to leave out the verb. The writer means to say that all the civilizations referred to in the sentence flourished at the same time. This meaning comes through without any ambiguity in the original sentence.

I hope this helps to clarify your doubt!

Regards,
Meghna
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Re: Salt deposits and moisture threaten to destroy. Ellipsis  [#permalink]

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